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Poetry Friday: "Song for the Songs of the Common Raven" by Don McKay

While summer is fast approaching, this Poetry Friday, something about the dark appeals to us. And is there a creature that better encapsulates the concept of "dark" than the raven?

Probably, but that wouldn't help us here, so please keep it to yourself.

From Angular Unconformity — the first comprehensive collection of pre-eminent Canadian poet Don McKay —here's a tribute to that darkest of dark animals, "Song for the Songs of the Common Raven."


Song for the Songs of the Common Raven

You could say it carries, you could say
dwells. Corvus corax: even in Latin
you can hear that smoke-and-whiskey brogue—
croak, curruck, and (swallowing the syllable)
tok. You could say a fierce
unsayable secret has possessed the voice,
which has to speak and must not tell and so
is hollowed out and rendered terminally
hoarse. Of its brutal
seismic histories, its duende,
it says nothing. Nothing of the flowing and bending of rock,
of the burning going down and coming
up again as lava. Of rogue gods
loitering among the hemlocks nurturing the urge
to break out into body it conspicuously
does not sing. While sending messages that might
say "Watch your asses, creatures
of the Neogene" or might say "Baby,
bring it on."


Angular Unconformity Don McKay icehouse poetry poetry Poetry Friday Ravens

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